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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The IT Rules

My family has discovered a British Series, the IT Crowd, about two techies in a corporate IT department. An American version never got past the pilot phase. 

One of the running jokes are the immediate responses given to anyone who calls.

  1. Have you tried turning it off and on?
  2. Are you sure it's plugged in?

My kids often track me down when the computer, cell phone, Wii or some of our many other tech devices don't work. Almost invariably I solve the problem by turning the device off and on, and in one case my daughter's cell phone wasn't charging because the charger wasn't plugged into the outlet. So I just remind them of the IT rules and they laugh but they'll forget for the next time.

So just remember: When in doubt, reboot. Too bad this usually doesn't work for fixing proofs.

12 comments:

  1. Ah yes. The good old Russian Space Station method.

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  2. xkcd has an answer for everything: http://xkcd.com/627/

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  3. This is a good intro to the show (30 seconds) for those who don't know it:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5oCHxB8d20s

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  4. The notion of ``a British Show'' or `an American Show'' may be completely lost on the current generations since you can always order things by netflix (I assume thats what Lance did) or buy them. The notion of ``the American version of a British Show'' may also stop happening since we can so easily access the original.

    Thanks for the Tip Lance- I may check it out!

    I always turn everything on and off before emailing staff. That works about 95% of the time.

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  5. P=NP if you just unplug it

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  6. A standard comment on this way of "fixing" IT problems is "Why do we tolerate this? You wouldn't tolerate this with your car."

    A few years ago, though, heading off on a 5-hour cross-country flight on an Embrayer 190 and after beginning our taxi we turned off to a corner of the airfield while they completely rebooted the airplane a couple of times until the systems worked to the pilot's satisfaction. The centrally-controlled seat-back digital entertainment system, which seemed to be working fine during the taxi, also had to be rebooted several times during the flight. Can cars be far behind?

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  7. I find that this mention usually breaks proofs. Especially if you wait until the next day to re-explain them.

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  8. Maybe debugging proofs by rebooting does not work, but debugging LaTeX sure does!

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  9. I think starting a hopelessly stuck proof/algo approach from scratch (but keeping the partial results from previous attacks around for reference/plugging in) could help. Others agree?

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  10. Bill: I don't think the notion of British vs American show is going anywhere. Fundamentally it is based in different cultural norms, particularly differing senses of humor. Even if everything's available online, many Americans may not find British shows funny (or vice versa), but would find an American version with similar premises funny.

    For example, I find The Office very funny. I watched the (original) British version of The Office on Netflix. I did not find it nearly as funny. (I am an American.)

    A related but slightly different phenomenon happens with books. For example, the American edition of Harry Potter has modified the idioms and slang from the original British.

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  11. "When in doubt, reboot. Too bad this usually doesn't work for fixing proofs."

    I dunno, isn't a proof by contradiction basically just running the proof until it crashes and then rebooting?

    "For example, the American edition of Harry Potter has modified the idioms and slang from the original British."

    I never understood that. Apparently, American kids are fine with letters being delivered by hyper-intelligent magical owls, but would be completely thrown by calling those letters "the post".

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  12. I never understood that. Apparently, American kids are fine with letters being delivered by hyper-intelligent magical owls, but would be completely thrown by calling those letters "the post".

    Some of it is just silly, but other cases are genuinely confusing. For example, I (an American) read a British edition where Harry got a jumper for Christmas. I was pretty sure it wasn't a dress, and I thought it might be a sweater, but I had to look it up to be certain.

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